In the Paralympic universal relay, Clegg too was up against a male runner in the American team. “Everybody knew I wasn’t going to catch him,” she says. “You can’t worry that they are miles ahead of you. My job was to keep up him off as long as possible to give Jonnie Peacock, the next person on the relay, the best chance of closing the gap. But that’s no different from racing a field of women. You just concentrate on running your race.”
What made the universal relay additionally intriguing was the fact it was not just the genders that were mixed, but classifications. Wheelchair athletes, those with visual impairments, neuro-muscular issues and cerebral palsy all competed alongside and against one another.
“Being an athlete is essentially a self-centred occupation,” says Clegg. “It was just so nice being part of something else. Although we aim in the same place at Loughborough, we are not in the same training groups. It was bright to get a sense of how others approach things.”
In the triathlon there was no direct competition between the sexes as each member of the team completed a 300m swim, 6.8 kilometre bike ride and 2km run, a fifth of the distance in the individual discipline.
“I think the format had a lot to do with why people watching so enjoyed it,” says Taylor-Brown. “Because it was a sprint the speed of it meant you couldn’t take your eyes off it, there was always something happening. If I’m honest, I get a bit bored watching a complete two-hour race. But this was just so complete on. You just had to go for it, give it everything from the off.”
“There is a relay in the Commonwealth Games,” she says. “Our Olympic team are all English, so provided we get chosen, look out for us going again, for England.”
Clegg, too, has ambitions for the Commonwealths. Now she has retired from the track, this time it would be on a bicycle.
“Sadly there isn’t a universal relay in para-cycling,” she says. “A real shame, it would make fantastic viewing. It would be absolute carnage.”
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